New Delhi: Sri Lanka must lift its game to challenge India with Herath out. For India opening tussle between Vijay, Rahul and Dhawan.
The only time Sri Lanka showed fight was over the first three rain-affected days at Eden Gardens in the first Test. It bowled India out for 172 and then bagged a lead in excess of 120 on a green pitch, but from there on, it has been mostly downhill.
The Nagpur Test was demoralising for the visiting side. It first squandered good batting conditions to be bowled out for 205 within the first day, and then saw four Indian batsmen getting three-figure scores. Among those was a double-century by Virat Kohli, which set up a massive victory for his side.
To make things worse for Sri Lanka, it has also lost the services of Rangana Herath, who has been ruled out with a back injury. Jeffrey Vandersay, the leg-spinner, has been named his replacement in the squad but one wonders if Vandersay will get a go, seeing that Lakshan Sandakan and Dhananjaya de Silva are also in the squad.
More than change in personnel, Sri Lanka needs a big change in execution of plans, as Nic Pothas, the coach, pointed out at the end of the second Test.
Dinesh Chandimal, the captain, also spoke about being “aggressive” after the first Test but not much of that was in evidence in Nagpur. Instead, the shot selection of the Sri Lankan batsmen was iffy and the result was there for all to see.
India, meanwhile, has a problem of plenty. Shikhar Dhawan is back after missing the second Test owing to personal reasons, making Kohli's job tougher. With all three openers – Dhawan, Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul – among the runs, it'll be interesting to see which two get the nod.
What’s definitely on the cards is another green track. India has one eye on the South Africa tour and the team has made no secrets about its desire to play on pitches that assist seamers, and the trend is likely to continue.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Vijay Shankar.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Dasun Shanaka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Roshen Silva and Jeffrey Vandersay.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at the Kotla is likely to be similar to the one India encountered at Eden Gardens – something Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami would not mind.
Stats and trivia
December 2-6, 2017
Start time 0930 local (0400 GMT)